Rivers State Governor, Mr. Chibuike Amaechi, Tuesday rallied opposition parties in the state and the people to join hands with his administration to save the state from people bent on destroying it.
The governor, who again condemned his suspension from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) by the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party, insisted that he was suspended for no just cause.
Amaechi spoke yesterday at an inter-party summit in Port Harcourt with the theme:“Cohesive inter-party relations as a panacea for peace and sustainable development in Rivers State”.
The plot to deal with the governor also entered a new chapter yesterday, as investigations have revealed that his opponents have launched a funds drive for his impeachment.
As the crisis in the state festers with a threat by labour unions to embark on strike over the continued occupation of the secretariat of Obio/Akpor Local Government Area by the police despite a court order that they should vacate the premises, the state Police Commissioner, Mr. Joseph Mbu, has warned the unions not to force workers to join in the strike.
Reviewing the political crisis in the state, Amaechi said that the era of impunity by any political party had gone and called on the electorate to ensure that votes count in the 2015 elections.
He said: “Indeed, it is only the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) that has the guts to suspend a governor without a reason. I leave them to God and to you (the people).
“We must come together to defend Rivers State. It’s not about me; I have served eight years as speaker, nearly six years as governor. Even if I am removed tomorrow, I am satisfied that this state, this country and history will recognise and remember me.
“If there is no history that I have made, the one God has helped me to make is the one that I stood out and fought for my rights and became a governor.
“You voted on my behalf and the Supreme Court confirmed that when you people were voting, you were voting for me. But you also need to make your own history and that history is that let Abuja know that you can stand for your rights, whether you belong to PDP or APC or any other party.
“If you listened to me yesterday (Monday) when I was addressing Rivers youths, I told them ‘all those from 18 and above should please get up’ and they got up.
“I asked them to sit down, they did and I asked again, ‘all those that have voters’ cards should please get up’ and a lot of them did and I said we should punish irresponsible politicians with our cards.
“So what I expect from all of you whether you belong to APC, CPC, where ever you belong to, start now to mobilise the state for one man, one vote.
“We will not allow them intimidate us with police or anything. Instead, we shall intimidate them with our votes.”
Amaechi explained that any government that cannot attribute its victory to the people’s votes would not be responsible to them.
According to him, government at all levels become transparent and accountable only when they fear they can be voted out for poor performance.
“Any government formed without the people’s votes cannot be responsible to the people. The only way government or governors or presidents or whoever can stop corruption, can stop mal-administration is when that government is put in place by you (the people) and they know that if they don’t govern well, you (the people) will vote them out.
“So your first demand should be that all governments must be responsible enough to allow for a free and fair election,” he added.
The keynote speaker at the summit and Chairman, Senate Committee on Petroleum Downstream, Senator Magnus Abe, urged politicians not to destroy Rivers State.
He lamented the lack of participatory democracy among political parties and the sole desire by parties to acquire and retain political power for selfish interests.
Abe said: “In Nigeria, the evolution of our party politics has been less than satisfactory. I say this because our country today is deeply divided along ethnic, religious and cultural lines.
“The main challenge facing our country has been the development of national political parties that will promote issues and idea-based contests for power.
“In other words, the contest for power will be a contest of ideas. The parties in Nigeria have evolved into vehicles strictly for the acquisition and retention of political power.
“In this evolution, our political parties have lost one of the key attributes of participatory democracy, that leadership should be a contest not of persons but of ideas.”
On his part, the chairman of the occasion and retired Justice of the Supreme Court, Justice Karibi Whyte, urged political parties to believe and mean well for the country.
He tasked politicians to uphold the truth and accept fairness.
“We are talking about governor, the office of the governor. We admire the governor, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Amaechi, because of his performance.
“We follow him because of his performance, we’ll do everything to ensure that he succeeds and the institution still carries on,” he said.
He criticised those plotting against Amaechi, calling them conspirators with a destructive motive.
“The group, which as all of us know, they are all conspirators. The conspiracy runs foul when it is directed towards a wrong motive.
“When it is a conspiracy which is destructive, which is oppressive and which makes it difficult for the common man to admire what is going on, then there is a foreboding of anarchy,” he said.
It was also gathered yesterday that the anti-Amaechi proponents have come up with a plan to raise funds that will be used to induce lawmakers to impeach the governor.
The money, among others, will be used to woo at least 17 members of the state House of Assembly who have been loyal to the governor, to team up with the five anti-Amaechi lawmakers to impeach him.
There are 33 lawmakers in the state assembly and to effect an impeachment of the governor, the constitution stipulates two-thirds of the members of the house, which is 22.
The Felix Obuah-led PDP executive in the state had earlier suspended 27 lawmakers perceived to be loyal to Amaechi.
The plot to precipitate the impeachment of the governor, it was gathered, was the resolution reached at a meeting held in Abuja on Monday night, in what was described as the “ultimate decimation” of the Amaechi factor.
A governor from the South-south zone was said to be part of the meeting and was charged with the responsibility of mobilising the required funds.
In a related development, the state police boss has warned labour unions in the state not to forcibly shut down operations at public institutions in their bid to comply with the strike order.
Mbu, who was reacting to the two-day warning strike by organised labour over the continued occupation of Obio/Akpor Local Government Area secretariat by the police, said the unions’ action was an offence, which the police would not tolerate.
The unions embarked on the strike because the closure of the secretariat was preventing workers in the council from going back to work.
The police commissioner, while addressing journalists in Port Harcourt yesterday, also accused some top government functionaries in the state of lobbying the unions to embark on strike over police presence at the council secretariat.
He explained that his men were at the local government secretariat to protect government property from being attacked by hoodlums.